Expert focus on Trans-Tasman relations

Australia and New Zealand have the potential to strengthen their top status in Economic Freedom, but complacency often precludes improvement, an expert has said.

According to Sydney-based Spectator columnist and Centre for Independent Studies Fellow Dr Oliver Marc Hartwich, Australians and New Zealanders are used to seeing the Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal rating their country high on their ‘Index of Economic Freedom’ each year.

“Australia comes third after Hong Kong and Singapore and each year, New Zealand is in fourth place, although the country has been ahead of Australia in the past. Something happening with clockwork-like repetitiveness is usually not very newsworthy. However, in this case it is worth a thought or two,” he said.

Dr Hartwich said there were several ways of improving the status but the general feeling was that nothing much can be done.

“The more often we hear how well we have weathered the global economic crisis of the past years, the less we believe there is anything left to do to secure our future prosperity.

“Governments still revert to the language of ‘reform.’ A generation ago, ‘reform’ meant tough institutional changes; the word has now become a synonym, and sometimes an excuse, for governments to increase their activities. In truth, for example, there is nothing ‘reformatory’ about digging trenches for fibre optic cables,” he said.

Dr Oliver Hartwich was earlier associated with British Think Tanks ‘Policy Exchange’ and ‘International Policy Network.’ He was also the UK representative for the German Institute for Free Enterprise, Adviser to Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay in the House of Lords. He is currently Member, Mont Pelerin Society, Sydney.

He is a graduate in Business Administration and Economics from the Bochum University in Germany. His doctoral thesis was on History of German and Australian Unfair Competition Law.

The British Government has implemented a number of his proposals, while a few became controversial, prompting Prime Minister David Cameron to recommend him to leave Britain for Australia sooner than planned.

Dr Hartwich will be in Auckland this week at the invitation of the New Zealand Business Table to speak on Australia and New Zealand: In the Old World or the New? The programme, which is by invitation only, will include farewell and tributes to former Business Roundtable Chairman Rob McLeod.

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